Discussion in 'Community' started by KnightWriter, Jun 14, 2009.
Oh, I'm not saying that the US ever supported or was indifferent to Iran's nuclear ambitions, it's just that in the early years Iran wasn't seen as this evil, #1 enemy it has been seen since about 2005/2006. The Europeans were leading the charge while the US was busy with Afghanistan and Iraq, before Ahmadinejad was elected.
With regards to US-Iranian relations, you'd have to go all the way back to pre-Islamist revolution of 1979 when Khomeini overthrew the Pahlavi Monarchy to find a time, or US President who didn't treat Iran as one of the public enemies of the world. Reagan "Rambo'ed both Iran and Iraq against each other to keep both in check. Bush 1 kind of kept Reagan's status quo because of Iran's support of terrorist groups (back then, mostly the old Islamic Jihad Organization), of which Iran indirectly benefitted from when Iraq was smashed during Desert Storm. Clinton actually increased the sanctions against Iran in the early 90's when Europe didn't because of Iran's illegal procurement of uranium back then.
The EU really got involved because Iran basically put its giant thumb in the eye of the IAEA by violating its obligations under the NPT. Since 1979, the US wasn't trading with Iran anyway. However, because it signed the NPT, Iran was trading with the EU. Except, Iran was getting all the benefits from Europe without following any of its obligations. But yeah, right around, or slightly before Ahmadinejad was elected, the EU took the lead in sanctions, but really enacted what had already existed since 79 in the US for different reasons.
I don't know if I just said the same thing you did. I don't know what you meant when you used the phrase "in the early years." Because the early years would be the 70's, and Iran would have a king supported largely by the UK, but who was very enamored by the US.
I agree with all of what you just said.
I'd just like to add/clarify thamt while we've definitely viewed Iran as a foe since 1979, it wasn't until around the time Ahmadinejad started making his crazy comments (and the benefits of the Iraq invasion to Iran became apparent) that Iran began to be treated as our #1 enemy (that's a country). Before that, as you said, the US had already cut off ties with Iran, and it was just the EU making demands on them while the US dealt with Iraq.
Well, this surfaced in my RSS today:
Saudi-Iranian feud too bitter for new Iranian president to fix
Nothing like regional theocracies participating in name-calling matches...the vitriol there, I think, is pretty insane. I'd imagine the headline is probably correct, even if only in the terms that it's not really the President of Iran who makes the calls there.
Iran's new president did nominate a woman to be vice president, which is largely symbolic but still a big step in the right direction there.
True, that she's a professor in law at Tehran University shows the differences between them.
The new government of Iran tells the Jews... Happy Rosh Hashanah
I really liked how they completely disavowed Ahdaminejad's Holocaust denial like two tweets later.
What's also interesting is that yesterday, the EU's General Court just struck down most of the EU's new, tougher sanctions that were levied against Iran due to its nuclear program. The sanctions, which were more strict than what even the US traditionally levied against Iran, were viewed as the cornerstone for the new international focus given to Iran's actions. Now, that economic pressure has been removed, which is a step back with how Iran is dealt with.
The main problem I have with the EU's Court ruling is that it is so typical of large, paralyzing governing bodies. The EU Court said that since there was "insufficient evidence" that Iran has developed actual nuclear weapons, the concern cannot be used as basis for putting restrictions on Iranian assets. Except the entire point of sanctions is to act as a deterrent against catastrophe. If the EU has to wait until Iran nukes someone as "conclusive proof," then the sanctions will be moot. I don't know all the workings of the EU, so I don't know if there is an appeal process, or if individual countries within the EU can still apply their own sanctions, or if they have to act en bloc within the EU....
At any rate, how allies deal with Iran just got a lot more complicated.
"Iran never denied it. The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone."
Denial of the denial FTW!
To be fair-North Korea wasn't sanctioned specifically for nuclear weapons until they detonated one, either; why should Iran be different?
Because of the goals of the sanctions themselves. Beyond the US's sanctions which go all the way back to the Islamist revolution, the goals of Iran's sanctions are to uphold balance in the region. Arguably, the same could be said about North Korea, but there is one HUGE difference between the two:
1)North Korea never signed the NPT, so it was never bound by the restrictions (and benefits of trade, international commerce, etc...) contained within. Since NK was never bound by a UN treaty, the sanctions it faced for nuclear weapons were the result of its own crazy actions, and unrelated to the NPT.
2) Iran signed the NPT, and so benefited from increased trade, agreements, etc but was found to be in non-compliance of the treaty itself by not allowing UN nuclear inspectors to verify the intent and status of its nuclear program. As a result, Iran's sanctions aren't tied to nuclear weapons per se, but rather the fact that it keeps screwing around with the IAEA inspectors.
The entire point of the NPT is to halt nuclear proliferation. Those countries who sign it can't have secret nuclear programs-benign or hostile-or the treaty itself becomes just another worthless piece of UN paper. Iran could fully open its program up to inspectors and be in compliance. It just can't have a secret program, boot out inspectors, and then go around making threats against other countries, regardless of what focus its program has.
Eh. I see what you're saying, but the EU Court is ultimately right in a strictly legal sense-can't punish for what you can't necessarily prove, IMO.
Edit: I don't see why individual European countries won't continue with their own sanctions, though.
Sure you can. I mean, what's the point of pressure-through sanction, treaty, or agreement-otherwise?
For example, while not exactly the same, the US government restricts exports of things like EoTech sights, and night vision, and such in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of those who the US may fight...ie "terrorists..." I think its a valid use of controlling international trade, as well as the federal government's best interests, to control things like this. Imagine though if the 9th Court of appeals issued a ruling that the State Department can't claim control over such exports until the actual person engages in a terrorist attack. If such items can only be restricted once they're used against US troops, the ban itself becomes rather useless.
This is the same ballpark. The entire point of the EU's sanctions is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons under the non-proliferation treaty. If such sanctions can only be imposed after Iran detonates a test bomb, the sanctions themselves become meaningless, or at the very least, they would highlight the problems of action vs reaction. At the very least, it highlights a real problem between 2 areas of international law. If the UN treaty is legally valid, then the EU should (and did) be able to vote on, and impose sanctions under, that authority. For the EU General Court to invalidate most of that using lesser standards....is....at the very least...inconsistent. And it's yet another nail in the coffin of the UN having any sort of relevance.
But yes, this is where I still can't really find an answer. I don't know if any specific country that is part of the EU could still impose its own sanctions, but it looks like under the collective, such would be almost meaningless. Because if it's allowed for the EU, then say Germany keeps its own sanctions, then hypothetically Spain could simply pick up the slack and not violate any EU agreements. I guess the rest of the EU could then punish any country that does business with Iran, but that seems like a huge mess.
Today, I came across this short interview article about the life and times of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the penultimate monarch of Iran. The interview is with professor Ali Ansari, historian on modern Iran from the University of St. Andrews. It's not for the purpose of debate that I present this; I just found it interesting and thought I'd share it. If nothing else, maybe the past can provide some useful context. If it does inspire discussion then of course all the better.
The Rise, Reign and Fall of Reza Shah, Iran's Modernizer
For the record, a critical response was submitted to this article that takes issue with some of the facts presented and what the author perceives to be apologism on the part of professor Ansari. You can find that response here, and Ansari's rebuttal to it can be found here.
I'll give it a read when I get home.
An American president has spoken to a leader of Iran for the first time since the Iranian Revolution in 1979... Obama and Rouhani had a "constructive" phone call yesterday, it was announced.
What's the next step?
IIRC Secretary Kerry and their Foreign Minister also chatted. So...probably more phone calls, maybe some higher-level meetings, and if Rouhani is amazingly lucky domestically, a public meeting with President Obama and his successor.
Yeah, not so much-mod edit
NIAC has been hosting its third annual leadership conference over the past days, and part of their lineup was this panel discussion about the coming P5+1 talks that you can watch recorded on C-SPAN. Entitled How to make or break US-Iran diplomacy, it examines opportunities, possibilities and obstacles ahead to a resolution of the nuclear file and rapprochement between the US and Iran. It runs at about 1,5 hours, so I would maybe recommend having it on in the background while doing other things, like I did. I found the discussion interesting and the viewpoints presented useful (in so far as they can be "useful" to any of us who are in no way connected to these events ).
Two particular things stuck with me. The first was the Italian diplomat arguing that it's pointless to talk about the negotiating behavior of a nation. You're never dealing with the behavior of a nation. You're always dealing with the particular person sitting across from you; no more or less. The second was in the Q&A session at the end, when as a reply to a question, they delved into the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The conclusions they draw from that analysis are worth listening to.
In that vein, I would also like to recommend this recent TED talk by Trita Parsi about the relationship between Iran and Israel: Peace is Possible. This runs at about 10 minutes.
I discovered that the link to the panel discussion in my previous post isn't working, so here's a new link.
I also watched another segment on Iran by C-SPAN today that was part of their Book TV program. This is about an hour long and features interviews with, and speeches by, three different authors on the subject of how to deal with Iran. Trita Parsi is the final one here, and his recount of the recent history of negotiations is useful and worth listening to, but the most noteworthy of the three to me was the middle one, Abraham Sofaer. He advocates diplomacy also, but criticizes the rest of the American policy toward Iran. Author of Taking on Iran: Strength, Diplomacy, and the Iranian Threat, he argues, essentially, that we let the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) get away with the various misdeeds that they commit, particularly ones that lead directly to the death of American soldiers. But then instead collectively punish the Iranian people with sanctions that hurt the ordinary citizen much more than they do the regime. He also argues that this is part of the reason why diplomacy has so far not worked. That the US has projected weakness toward Iran for the last 30 years. Quite significantly, he also argues against military strikes against the country.
Now, I don't know the practical applicability of what he's suggesting; to confront and engage the IRGC wherever they threaten US soldiers, interests and allies, and at the same time not provoke an escalation leading to war. But to my mind, it is compelling, and sounds like the talk of the proverbial cooler heads, without advocating rolling over to tyrants; on the contrary, quite the opposite; and thus avoids sounding like what you could typically brand a "peacenik". The interview with him is by far the best part of the program and I highly recommend it. It begins at the 20:00 mark and lasts for about 15 minutes.
I checked out that video when you first posted it (it did work), and I must agree it was very interesting - and indeed, the main point that lingered was how negotiations revolve around individuals dealing with individuals, just like any old price negotiation anyone here might have. It's as if we never really leave the school playground.
Eh, well what viable alternative was there to sanctions? Seems to me that the only options we had were: war, sanctions, and doing nothing.
You didn't watch the link, did you?